Written by Robin Mathews
The fact is surprising and alarming. A phrase that would have been impossible to speak in Canada before the Stephen Harper-led Conservative entry into Canadian politics is now almost an accepted expression.
Language is not meaningless - even the federal Conservative cabinet’s Orwellian mask-language has meaning … paid attention to. “Democracy” in the mouths of Stephen Harper and John Baird and James Moore means increasing environmental irresponsibility, increasing government by private corporations, and the total disregard of Canadian wishes, on behalf of international finance and “enterprise”.
The phrase “fascism in Canada” suggests – quickly and reasonably to most people - repression and public bullying, propaganda and disinformation (the prime minister’s statements are repeatedly proved false), programs of lies and subterfuge, unrelieved attacks upon unions, NGOs, advocacy groups and regulatory bodies protecting Canadian health and freedoms, increasing government secrecy, and – tirelessly – a Mainstream Press and Media which is more and more an arm of corrupt government.
The profusion of attacks upon formerly-taken-for-granted democratic ideas, institutions, and practices confuses the population because no single one of the attacks overturns daily life for most people.
The cast of characters engaged in the overthrow of Canadian democracy is large – so large repression begins to be acccepted as democratic practice. Stephen Harper has been prime minister through two attempts to corrupt the electoral system.
In the first case (2006) the Party he leads admitted guilt and paid a fine after years of denial and court resistance. Since the second (2011), the whole Conservative machine lives in denial as citizens organize and try to prove (in law) what they allege is Conservative criminality.
Chief cabinet ministers reek with misdoings. Peter MacKay began his leadership career by violating a signed contract – publicly. John Baird and Tony Clement engineered a $50 million siphoning of taxpayers money to fatten the pork barrel in Clement’s riding. James Moore announced his love of CBC and promised increased support as a prelude to sinking a dagger deep into the heart of the operation.
The unelected overseers of growing ‘fascist dumb-think’- the Prime Minister’s Office personnel - have just been exposed by the RCMP as having many hands on the corrupt attempted pay-off of Senator Mike Duffy. We are told that only 14% of Canadians believe Stephen Harper was not the architect of the wrong doing.
Finally, the faceless and graceless “trained seals” of the Conservative government caucus are only slightly more embarrassing, perhaps, than the bloated, nearly one hundred unelected primed parrots of the PMO, a quarter of whom make $100,000 a year or more.
Very plainly, the shift from a democratic parliament to a neo-fascist State in Canada is signalled by that strange operation which is nowhere mentioned as part of government in any constitutional document. The PMO – especially in the present regime – is the mask-government, the real, unelected power fronting for private corporate rule in Canada. The unelected personnel of the PMO dictate policy and practice to the “elected” Conservative Members of Parliament. When Stephen Harper and his supporters speak of “putting the economy first”, that is Orwell-speak for following the agenda of the large corporations first, last, and always.
Resistance to the idea that a fascist mentality operates at the top levels of Canadian government arises from several sources. A main source of denial is, of course, the Conservative machine which, for instance, did everything it could as long as it could to deny wrongdoing in election practices.
But other, legitimate sources resist the idea. Many believe fascism has to produce jack-boots and concentration camps before it can be identified as present. Others genuinely believe “it can’t happen here” in Canada, and so dismiss the idea. Still others believe that if an electoral system exists, democracy exists.
They couldn’t be farther from the truth.
The idea of fascism (the name chosen by Mussolini) originally was to disregard the individual and individual rights in the exclusive interest of the nation. It very soon, however, took the turn from which it has never changed. In 1921 Mussolini made chief allies of the landowners and the industrialists, and fascism has been ‘corporatist’ ever since, meaning, since then, a marriage of the State and corporations. Adolf Hitler, in the 1930s, famously united with the industrialists, forged a unified front with them, and fed them slave labourers until the defeat of Nazism.
The first key to contemporary fascism is the unity, the amalgamation of purpose, and the solidarity of private corporations and government – taking precedence over democratic, human, and civil rights. That explains the federal Conservative government attacks upon fair elections, regulatory bodies, agencies to protect food and medical standards and the environment. It explains, too, its unceasing attacks upon democratic assemblies (NGOs, environmental groups, unions, etc.)
The federal Conservative government’s refusal to protect West Coast fish stocks, to do anything serious to regulate Tar Sands extraction, or to regulate the massive water and land pollution created by hydraulic fracturing (fracking), and to allow the gigantic train disaster at Lac Megantic are ordinary characteristics of a government that sacrifices all human and environmental values to the desires of its profit-driven corporate partners.
The Lac Megantic catastrophe was, quite simply, the product of Canadian Conservative government refusal to interfere with the profit-driven abandonment of the simplest safety precautions.
Commentators on the Lac Megantic catastrophe sometimes reveal how successful the corporate brainwash has been upon them, remarking that the move to industry-based safety practices is a normal and reasonable move. But, of course, it is neither normal nor reasonable.
The whole process involving government abandonment of regulation is not only anarchistic insanity, it is also policy. It is government, in fact, by corporations. By permitting the Railway Corporations, in effect, to erect and police safety standards, the Conservative government is, in fact, doing nothing – an invitation to unbridled violation of human rights and human decency. The Conservative government quotes changes and changes to safety regulation – all of which are questioned by experts.
The man I call the resident confuser of criticism for the Conservatives is at it again. Hugging sentimentality, Fred DeLorey says (The Hill Times, July 15, p.31) that he won’t get involved in “politics” concerning one of the most important political events of the decade – Lac Megantic! Knowing that the regulatory agencies under the Conservatives are hugely undermined, he says with confidence that we “must let the proper authorities complete their investigation….” Like his boss, Stephen Harper, he pushes responsibility off on an appointed body employed to support Conservative failure to protect.
Green commentator Camille Labchuk (on the same page of Hill Times) fingers “the ideology of deregulation”, pointing out it was the wonderful regulator, Transport Canada, which “apparently gave MMA permission to leave unattended locomotives (carrying)… hazardous materials”.
Not surprisingly, a Vancouver Sun story of June 17, 2013 reports a huge failure to meet specific fish monitoring requirements and general industrial guidelines by most private hydro plant operations in B.C. The story points to important failures to protect fish habitat. (Larry Pynn, p. A7) Since no regulatory program is pursued strongly by governments and since violations are virtually unpunished, the private corporations (permitted in fact by the B.C. Campbellclark governments) seem openly contemptuous of both specific requirements and general industrial guidelines.
Like the Lac Megantic disaster, the simpler, less trumpeted devastation of rivers in B.C. is a product of fascist mentality producing fascist policy. To ignore that fact is to invite increasing devastation of the environment and increasing repression of resistance to it.
Mussolini gave the name to Fascism in in the 1920s. His model was both used and changed by Hitler’s Nazism in the 1930s. Both Mussolini and Hitler instituted the idea of a single, key leader and maker of policy, called in Mussolini’s case ‘Il Duce’ and in Hitler’s case ‘Der Fuehrer’. The initiative might be equated somewhat to the present leader of the federal Conservative government choosing to speak – not of the Conservative government in Ottawa but – of ‘the Stephen Harper government’ or merely of ‘the Harper government’.
That little act of vanity and (more deeply) of policy to focus on a single source of power, a single law-giver, is an indication of more dangerous directions taken. And it points to the danger of unelected power groups who take real control of government.
At the same time as the Conservative government of Canada is placing the Canadian population in excessive danger (Lac Megantic, July 2013), a strong move is afoot by giant investors to pump money into railway takeovers and the expansion of the rail carriage of dangerous liquids. As if in a storybook tale, railways have been quietly taken over by some of the most powerful (and thought by many to be the least responsible) wealthy in the world.
Major shareholders are now Bill Gates (the CNR), Warren Buffet (Burlington Northern Santa Fe), and Bill Ackman (CPR). They are keystones in the multi-billion dollar expansion of railways as fossil fuel transporters. Very clearly, stern and actively policed regulation of railways in Canada is an absolute must.
Behind the scenes a huge structure is being created to transport fossil fuels by rail in, through, and around Canada with (at present) a railway regulation system that is, in effect, almost non-existent. The present Conservative government in Canada led by Stephen Harper, with a new minister of transport Lisa Raitt will – we may be sure – do everything it can to answer the demands of the railway corporations and to erase safety for Canadians ... “placing the economy first”. Lisa Raitt proved herself to Stephen Harper as someone quite willing to rape democratic rights. She is famous, as minister of labour. Twice she erased the democratic rights of unions so that corporate profit would be assured.
We may be certain that on her watch the safety of Canadians and the Canadian environment will come last as she makes railway transport a very profitable activity for some of the richest men in the world, outside Canada, of course.
The definition of contemporary fascism places and explains what is called The Conservative Party of Canada. Caught in continuing election fraud and irregularity, the Conservative government refuses to bring in changes put forward by Elections Canada. The Conservative Party clearly intends, we may assume, to win another election by fraud. That is wholly consistent with a fascist organization. Though it seems to be a contradiction, a fascist state will use ‘popular election’ as long as it can – however much it tampers with it and makes it fraudulent.
Then the rulers can posture and prate about “free societies” and “democratic countries”. It can pretend it is acting by “the will of the people” – as this Conservative government regularly insists it is doing.
What Canadians see more and more is a parade of fraud and deception, of disinformation and lies, of government secrecy and of growing repression. All those things are undertaken to mask the corporate looting of Canada, the unregulated violation of the Canadian environment, and governmental sacrifice of the vulnerable – whether the working people, the aged, the unemployed, or even the wounded and crippled military veterans being tossed aside by a brutal Conservative administration.
All of those things are related. Only the naïve or the bribed continue to believe they are not all connected … and intended.
The name given to the overall program may stick in the throats of many Canadians who want neither to face the truth nor to take up the battle that has to be fought. But the program is, like it or not, a fascist program tailored to the contemporary world as it exists in Canada.
Written by Robin Mathews
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